Statement by Andrew Woodward – Labor for Cowper

17 May 2018

Government backs down on Coffs Harbour Bypass start and finish dates – or is this a cover up?

Within eight hours of announcing in writing the Coffs Harbour Bypass start and finish years yesterday, the Government backed down, mysteriously removing any reference to the dates on the Minister’s and National Party’s website.

A news release was handed to media at yesterday’s event in Coffs Harbour

The second last sentence of the release states:

“Construction is expected to commence in 2020 and be completed in 2024”.

See Exhibit A.

But in the version of the release put on the Minister’s website and the National Party website, this sentence has been removed.

See Exhibit B.

In the great tradition of the National Party, there’s a commitment in the morning and it is gone by the afternoon.

This can hardly be a ‘cut and paste’ error as there’s text either side of the deleted sentence on the websites. It is a deliberate omission.

And remember, this project is yet to be “Assessed” by the Federal Government’s project delivery organisation, Infrastructure Australia.

Questions for Mr McCormack and Mr Hartsuyker:

  • What the hell is going on?
  • Why was this sentence removed from the online versions?
  • Are you still committed to a 2020 start date and 2024 finish date?
  • Did the Department in Canberra prepare this the release without the sentence but it was added here in Coffs Harbour in the paper version, hoping you could get away with it locally but not be held to account nationally?
  • Who made this decision?

Or is it because it appears that Mr McCormack misinformed or deliberately mislead Parliament last week and was trying to avoid being caught. In Parliament on 8 May 2018, Mr McCormack said:

“Construction will start in 2021” and “we expect the project to be completed in 2023”

We caught him.

See Exhibit C.

This is as bad as it gets.

They haven’t submitted the final business case to Infrastructure Australia.

They haven’t got approval for the project (due post-June 2019).

They haven’t got funding for the project confirmed beyond 30 June 2022.

They can’t agree on a start date.

They can’t agree on a finish date.

The Deputy Prime Minister is not on top of his brief.

They clumsily try and cover their tracks.

They’re either deliberately lying; making stuff up or just plain stupid.

This is a total shambles. It is a con job. It is embarrassing. 

And they haven’t even turned a sod.

Astounding, We deserve better. 


Exhibit A – 16 May 2018 – Release handed to media onsite in Coffs Harbour

IMG_7113 2

Exhibit B – 16 May 2018 – Ministerial and National Party websites

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 4.42.18 am

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 6.04.49 pm

Exhibit C – 8 May 2018 – Hansard

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.26.22 pm

Updated: 17 May 2018

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